In the occasion of the third Summer school in Leadership and Governance for Sustainable Tourism, which will take place from the 30th of June to the 3rd of July in Vitoria, I had the pleasure to interview Ms Marta Blanco, General Director, Instituto de Turismo de España (Turespaña). She talks about the organizational model of the Spanish tourism board, the marketing strategies, the leadership approach, the link with the European policies, and she focuses on the Basque country as key destination for food and art.
SB: Can you describe the TURESPAÑA organization model and the vision which is behind your marketing strategies?
MB: Turespaña promotes Spain abroad as a tourist destination. It is a government agency that works together with other local and regional tourist organizations as well as with private companies to attain its goals. An advisory board comprised of government and private industry representatives meets regularly and provides inputs about the marketing plans and strategies. These strategies are put in place following an intensive market research effort in all the tourist outgoing markets where Turespaña is active, complemented with surveys to fully understand our demand and our competitors’ behaviors. Turespaña operates under a four year strategic marketing plan implemented yearly through operative plans in every market. We put a special focus on evaluating the results and the return on investment and therefore set key performance indicators to assess the rate of success we strive for.
SB: Which are the key tangible and intangible attraction of the Basque Country which act as ambassadors for Spain?
MB: The Basque Country is a unique tourist destination, that combines landscape with urban tourism and seaside, as in many other areas of Spain. For surfers is worldwide known for the “Mundaka wave”, art lovers flock to visit the Guggenheim Museum and fine dining tourists will enjoy 30 Michelin stars in the region, not to mention the possibility of bar-hopping for tasting drinks and tapas (called “pintxos” in the Basque Country). Here you can find more information about tapas .
SB: At the level of the tourism boards work, how do you perceive leadership and management relevance?
MB: Strategic thinking, market research, communication and, probably above all, collaboration between different tourists boards at all levels (national, regional, local) and with the private sector. Leadership can only be achieved moving always in those areas two steps ahead of your competitors, which is not easy in the complex and changing scenarios in which we work. At this point it is important to remark the leadership of Spain, acknowledged by the recent World Economic Forum ranking, which places Spain on the top among 141 countries as the most competitive travel and tourism destination.
SB: If you would have a wish regarding European policies that benefit your work, what would you wish for?
MB: Tourism is horizontal to most public policies. At an european level there is a lot being done and at the same time al long way to go in implementating policies that could benefit directly the flow of tourists, such as the Schengen visa system. I am positive about how european policies are approaching tourism, but being this industry so huge, about 11% of the GDP in the case of Spain, more european resources should be allocated to support it. The Competitive Index of the World Economic Forum that I just mentioned precisely points to this by evaluating fourteen pillars in each country involving a broad variety of public policies.